In mid-20th century America, a place that called itself a "coffee shop" was probably a small, casual restaurant serving hearty meals and industrial-grade coffee. In some ways, Bean Town Coffee House & Bakery hearkens back to that model, although the coffee?a private-label blend from The Sierra Madre Roasting Company?is surely a lot better. Gourmet burgers start sizzling on the grill around noon, drawing hungry lunchers on break from work or burger-making school. Patties come in three varieties: standard beef, turkey, or black bean, any one of which slides easily into creations such as the Bean Town burger, topped with black bean and corn spread, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle mayo.
Being a bakery, Bean Town has dessert covered, too. Guests can opt for sweet stuff such as a scoop of the Fosselman's ice cream, fresh-baked pastries, or a complimentary slice of warm Wi-Fi.
The chefs at The Patio grill, sauté, and bake a menu of traditional Lebanese dishes, relying heavily on the simple, healthy flavors of garlic and olive oil. These ingredients play a starring roll in appetizers such as hummus and white-bean salad, and kisses from the grill's open flames leave charred lipstick on the collar of chicken, beef, or shrimp kebabs. Smoke from flavored Al Fakher, Starbuzz, and house-blended tobacco wafts through the air in the restaurant's hookah bar, mingling with ethereal genies released from nearby bottles of pop.
John Galardi started serving franks at the original Wienerschnitzel in 1961, and enterprising cooks in more than 350 franchise locations have gone on to doll up original, turkey, and beef dogs with an inventive array of toppings. Chili, kraut, pickles, pastrami, and other fixings leap onto handheld fare or become fresh characters in novels scrawled on napkins. Beneath chilly whorls of Tastee Freez ice cream, the eatery's menu shivers with soft-serve cones, sundaes, and shakes.
Using only fat-free vegetable oil, seasonal vegetables, and fresh meats, the chefs of Nirvana Indian Cuisine whip up authentic Indian dishes in their sunny, open space. White table clothes set the stage for heaping plates of curries and naan, and lunchtime diners can sample bites of everything during the lunch buffet.
Hot Dog on a Stick Founder Dave Barham opened his first Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica in 1946, and the company has since burgeoned into an employee-owned franchise that's more than 100 eateries strong and spans 11 states. Best known for a 100% turkey hot dog dunked in corn-bread batter made from Dave's mother's recipe and cooked in soy oil, Hot Dog on a Stick also pioneered the dipping and be-sticking of mild american and spicy jalapeño jack cheese. Smiling employees in red-, white-, and blue-striped uniforms with, as Dave put it, "a splash of lemonade," hand over cherry, lime, sugar-free, or original lemonade that they make fresh every two hours by squeezing Ventura County lemons until they cry.
Butterflied, hand-breaded, or fried to a golden crisp, different cooking techniques highlight the complex flavors and textures of shrimp in distinctive ways. At Shrimp House, the cooks have been practicing those varied methods for nearly half a century. The menu also highlights a wide range of other ingredients, sourced mainly from the sea. Lobster adds a buttery richness to time-tested macaroni, and wild-caught salmon and farm-raised catfish round out the options. The kitchen also leans on real Angus beef for patty melts. The takeout menu brims with large dishes ideal for feeding hungry guests or disguising your fight club as a picnic.